Hybrid Working: How To Make It Work For Your Business
The working landscape has changed unrecognisably over the last 18 months or so. Whilst most offices were once full of staff working 9-5, nowadays many of us are still working from home whilst others are venturing back into the office on a part-time basis.
As a CEO, you might be faced with a dilemma: How to manage this going forward? Should you move to a hybrid working model? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to help you make this important business decision.
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What is hybrid working?
Hybrid working is, quite simply, a working model that combines both home working (or remote working from another location) and time in the office. Employees might have set days and times where they’re all in the office, it could be done on a rota basis or may be left to staff to decide their individual working patterns, and determine what the split will be between working from home and office-based work.
Although many employers have offered hybrid working in the past to employees requesting it due to, for example, health reasons or care duties, we’re now in a position where businesses are faced with the decision of whether to move to a hybrid working model for all staff or not.
You may have considered continuing to work from home in a remote-first model. That has its benefits – primarily reducing your expenses on office rent and overheads to improve your cash flow situation. However, it doesn’t work for everyone.
Homeworking has been just as productive as office working for many employees, but for others, they’ve found the split between work and home life increasingly blurred, which can easily lead to burnout. What’s more, 45% of office workers in the US said that they missed in-person meetings with their colleagues, and 46% missed the non-work conversations that happen throughout the working day.
However, many employees have found that they have a better work-life balance, with less time spent commuting and more time spent doing things they love outside of work.
It’s hard to please everyone, but hybrid working could be the solution. A recent study by Accenture found that the vast majority of workers – a huge 83% – prefer a hybrid working model, so it’s likely to be a move that’s popular with your staff. But there are, of course, more considerations than that and there are some downsides to hybrid working, as well as clear positives.
Benefits of hybrid working
There are plenty of benefits to hybrid working, for both staff and business owners.
One of the key benefits is that you may be able to reduce your office space, easing your cash flow. With fewer employees in the office at any one time, you could potentially move into a smaller office space with hot desks, rather than a fixed desk for every member of staff. That means less money spent on rent, and a healthier cash flow for your business, allowing you to invest, take on new staff or pay for a new marketing campaign.
Better work-life balance
Many employees find that, without a long commute, they have a better work-life balance when working from home. A survey conducted by SurveyMonkey at the peak of the UK lockdown in May 2020 found that employees who worked remotely felt happier than their colleagues who remained in the office. Happy employees are productive employees, which is good for business. Before lockdown, many CEOS were concerned that working from home would mean less work would get done – but the opposite has proved to be true, with Microsoft finding that 82% of business leaders across Europe reported their staff were at least as productive working from home as they were before the pandemic.
Potential pitfalls of hybrid working
So far, so good – moving to hybrid working may be sounding like the way forward. But some downfalls must be considered.
Finding a model that works for everyone
Whilst hybrid working offers lots of benefits for workers in the later stages of their career, particularly those who may be balancing a demanding role with child or other family care duties, it’s less popular with those at the start of their career.
Remote working offers less chance for ad-hoc conversation and collaboration, something which is vital for young professionals looking to develop and grow in their roles. The study by Accenture found that 74% of Gen Z workers want more opportunities to collaborate with colleagues face-to-face, which is a significantly higher percentage than Gen X employees (66%) and Baby Boomers (68%).
When determining what hybrid working looks like for your business, it’ll be crucial to establish a schedule that suits everyone’s needs and doesn’t make any employees feel as though they’re not getting the support they need at work. If that happens, you’re at risk of losing talent from your business.
Loss of company culture
One of the biggest concerns for both business owners and employees when moving to a hybrid model is that there will be less of a culture in the company. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many workers have reported feeling isolated when working from home, with research from Totaljobs suggesting that 46% of UK workers experienced loneliness when working from home, and an even higher percentage of younger workers (aged 18-38) struggling with social isolation.
Hybrid working will go a long way to easing these feelings of isolation, but it still poses a challenge when it comes to forging an atmosphere of culture and collaboration. How can you instill shared values when you never have the whole company in the office at the same time?
Company leaders will have to invest time and effort into creating visibility and transparency across the team. You may also want to organise more social events than previously, as teams may now only get an opportunity to socialise and collaborate with their own team. Creating and maintaining a culture when working within a hybrid model requires a lot of work, but it can be done.
How to make the switch to hybrid working
If you’re ready to make the switch to a hybrid model, bear in mind that it will take some planning – and perhaps some trial and error to get it right.
Here are some steps that you can start taking today.
Discuss with the leadership team
Get your senior management team, HR and the C-suite together to discuss the situation. How often do you need people to be in the office? Are there any client requirements to be mindful of? Will it have any impact on existing policies and procedures?
Create a policy
A hybrid working policy should be created. It needs to be clear so that your staff understand where and when they should work. Let your staff review the policy and ask for feedback – for it to be successful, it’s best to make it a collaborative process, ensuring that the people it will impact the most can have their say.
Consider an office move or redesign
Looking to reduce your outgoings? You could downsize your office or move to a coworking space, introducing a hot-desking policy to your office in the process.
Review your tech
Successful hybrid working relies on technology. Review your tech tools and assess whether they’re fit for the job. With some staff working from home and some in the office, everyone needs equal access to technology that will make it feel like they’re all in the same room together.
Review your benefits package
Do you offer free tea, coffee and biscuits for office workers? How will that work for home workers? Or do you have a salary sacrifice gym membership benefit that’s only for the gym closest to your office? You may need to review your benefits package to ensure that it’s fair for everyone, whether they’re in the office every day or mostly working from home.
There are many reasons to consider hybrid working for your company. Whilst there are cost savings to be made, which could give your cash flow a healthy boost, there is the human side to consider too. To help you decide, try out Float for free and use our scenario planning feature to work out what’s best for your business.